The local startup industry now has its own festival

I was looking over a series of leadership and management case studies when the call came in. “Smooth and literal or syrupy and dynamic, how do you want it,” I said to the caller.

The reality is that at the heart of the matter is a well-composed combination of the two. A person’s experience underlines no foregone conclusion. As drastic actions of toll rate removal take place between Malaysia and Singapore, cardiac services with fully equipped state-of-the-art labs are opening and the whole planet is experiencing another of its many cycles we take a look into today. Drawing from some examples of historical methods can be delicious fruit, but business today is often considered to be drastically different from yesterday at an embarrassing pace. That’s why it’s crucial for people to have access to opportunities and resources to gain advantages over the high rates of business failure.

Beginning a business is a guaranteed daunting task, even for those most experienced. Visit the business section in any bookstore or run a quick search online for ‘steps for a startup’ and you’ll find anywhere from 10 to hundreds of different key steps to be taken. Knowing the correct steps today no longer seems to necessarily translate into the right steps tomorrow. Some may disagree, and I believe rightly so. In an ever faster changing marketplace, there are too many people sitting on great ideas or getting buried in the immensity of the task of getting up and running.

Malaysia’s startup scene is alive, well and active. Open the door to an opportunity to meet with industry players and stakeholders. Enjoy spending time bouncing ideas off others in southern Malaysia. You definitely need to attend IP SMART 2018: CREATE.

When we think of Johor, whatever comes to mind first is changing. By supporting and building this new entrance into Malaysia, Iskandar Puteri, many opportunities are appearing. Today’s global marketplace is ripe for the picking. This event, CREATE, is a solid launchpad into the Malaysian startup scene before moving on to larger events in greater Southeast Asia. If you are in Johor, seeking industry tip and tricks that can bring your idea or business to that next level, prepare yourself to attend this from 25 – 28 January.

High growth industries like agrotech and digital health see real potential through the benefits of our current levels of increased connectivity. The economic environment of Malaysia and the world is set for significant shifts. How can you actively participate in nurturing this?


To better understand what this event means for attendees and Johor, we speak with Feng Lim, a community builder and founder of At20s. With the drive to become one of the top nations in the world for economic development, social advancement and innovation, events like CREATE aim to help Johor realize these lofty aspirations.

About three years ago Feng Lim, formally trained as an accountant, saw the need and benefit of building the startup community in Johor. Through organizing a series of fireside chats and larger gatherings, he imagined the benefits a more ‘umbrella organization’ could bring to the scene. A number of smaller communities like Johor WebDrink Entrepreneurs Johor and the Google business group SME’s (small and medium enterprises) were growing side by side. He thought, what better way then to bring them together.

Feng seems most excited about what the new co-working community building space in Iskandar Puteri means to them. He states that precisely what they needed was their own managed spaces to focus on education of business fundamentals. Even Facebook knows “groups are great for getting things done and staying in touch with just the people you want.”

The beginnings of this unifying group were simple enough. In 2014, they launched the Facebook group and a website landing page. At the same time, they were trying to attain the goals to gather enough people to justify renting a bus to attend the first MaGIC Academy Symposium, create the first Startup Weekend in Johor Bahru and schedule a networking meetup session in there as well.

Nothing beats joining forces. MaGIC (Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre) recognizes the need to create “exponential entrepreneurs in Malaysia because of the world’s rapid pace of technological advances, a changing landscape and a small window in the competitive global environment to build long-term sustainable communities. Yes, that is a mouthful, as is accomplishing this goal. BigThink believes that ‘exponential entrepreneurs’ will be the new normal, but this just does not happen on its own because people want it to. It takes targeted action to build an ‘innovation supercluster.’ This is exactly what CREATE set’s out to launch.

A really brief and broad overview of the economy may offer a little perspective. The Malaysian services industry, at about 54.4% share to GDP [prices at a constant matching 2010] has seen a steady growth. The Department of Statistics Malaysia shows that as of Q3 2017, the growth rate was 6.6%. This remains a large and prominent segment of the Malaysian marketplace trailed by the manufacturing sector. The key markets may be considered as Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Johor. Each region has different focuses, and this could change.

For now, Feng is based in Johor and seeking to cultivate his community there. Being so close to Singapore has its advantages and disadvantages. Because of Singapore’s land limitation and higher costs of doing business, Johor has seen a number of back-office operations for Singaporean companies set up there. This helps create earning opportunities but isn’t necessarily the greatest for promoting entrepreneurial startups.

There are not as many active startups in other Malaysian states as of Q3 2017. Some of our talents migrate to Singapore because of greater earnings potential. Johor has attempted to establish some industries such as the media industry that deals in motion pictures and game developers. They are attempting to leverage their location and the global demand for affordable production centers.

Any future surge is going to ride on the shoulders of entrepreneurs willing to take the risk and do the necessary research to expand their dream. Large events are a valuable tool for strengthening the future of the Malaysian and more specifically for Feng, the Johorean community. CREATE is only the beginning of a larger series of events set to stimulate growth and innovation. Because they are traditionally effective methods, networking sessions, a hackathon, intense pitching sessions and masterclasses are the pillars of this event.

CREATE has made an effort to offer these to the public for free by means of a refundable deposit in order to make this accessible to struggling entrepreneurs. Many  recognize that finances play a heavy role in business. During initial phases of market research, hiring workers and securing intellectual property, a solid source of financial capital is crucial. Joining one of the pitching sessions will put you and your business idea to the test. The more you have prepared, of course, the more likely you are to convince investors the earnings potential your innovation delivers.

Do some quick research, gather your thoughts and see how you can benefit from this direct connection into the startup community that IP SMART 2018: CREATE offers. There is a crack in everything, that’s how the innovators get in.

Written by Andrew Crum. IP SMART 2018: CREATE takes place from 25 – 28 January 2018 at Iskandar Space and the Academy of eSports, located in the AFINITI, Medini. For registration and further enquiries, head over to Startup Johor.

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